Budget Highlights

Key highlights from NASA's FY 2021 President's Budget Request and related documents.[1]

  • Nearly half of the budget request, $12.3 billion, is devoted to new and ongoing projects focused on the return to the moon and eventual flights to Mars.
  • Includes $3.3 billion to kickstart development of a human-rated lander for the Artemis moon program. NASA documents indicate it will cost about $35 billion to fund the Artemis moon program, as currently envisioned, through the first landing of a man and woman on the lunar surface in 2024.  The funding would be distributed throughout the agency, with the Human Exploration and Operations Directorate receiving most of the increase.
  • The budget provides $4 billion to fund deep space exploration, including $2.26 billion for ongoing development of the Boeing-managed Space Launch System (SLS) —heavy-lift rocket, $1.4 billion for the Lockheed Martin Orion capsule that will carry astronauts to and from the moon and $385 million for the ground systems needed to support the lunar architecture.
  • The Gateway, funded at $739.3 million in the 2021 budget, is an element in the Artemis program. The initial architecture called for assembling the outpost robotically in a high lunar orbit reachable by the Orion spacecraft. The commercially-developed moon lander, also assembled there, would be waiting to carry the Artemis 3 crew down to the surface and back.
  • The Budget provides robust funding for the programs that support this goal, including $3.4 billion for the development of lander systems, over $700 million to support lunar surface activities, and $233 million for robotic precursor missions to Mars that would also conduct cutting-edge science.
  • As part of the lunar campaign, the Space Technology Mission Directorate would also receive a sizable increase, (via the Exploration Technology account). The directorate’s lunar surface portfolio includes technologies for in-situ resource utilization and construction, surface power, and lunar dust mitigation.
  • The budget request also includes $529 million for robotic exploration of Mars, including a planned mission to returned cached soil and rock samples to Earth for laboratory analysis.
  • FY 2021 budget request includes $1.4 billion for the International Space Station. which NASA plans to operate through "at least" 2024, and $1.88 billion for the agency's commercial crew and cargo programs.
  • FY 2021 budget request includes 6.3 billion  for Space science including $2.66 billion for planetary science, $831 million for astrophysics, $1.77 billion for Earth science and $414.7 million for final work to ready the $9.7 billion James Webb Space Telescope for launch in March 2021. The planetary science request covers the initial Mars sample return work and continues initial development of a probe to study Jupiter's icy moon Europa.
  • The directorate will also establish a separate $100 million Space Nuclear Technology portfolio in FY 2021, to develop power and propulsion systems for space exploration.

Updated October 2020, by Kevine Lidoro